Aspects of the conservation biology of Coregonus lavaretus in Britain

Etheridge, Elizabeth C. (2009) Aspects of the conservation biology of Coregonus lavaretus in Britain. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Conservation of phenotypically variable taxa such as the European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) can be particularly challenging. In this thesis it is argued that the recent designation of seven native C. lavaretus populations as three endemic species (C. clupeoides, C. stigmaticus and C. pennantii) by Kottelat & Freyhof (2007) are incorrect and cannot be substantiated with the results presented here. However, evidence for important infra-specific variation between populations has been found. Two native Scottish populations of C. lavaretus show considerable variation in morphology, trophic ecology and life history.

The variation in these populations warrants protection, one conservation action becoming more commonly utilised in Britain is conservation translocation. It was found that there were significant differences between source and refuge populations in Scotland. The wisdom of using this conservation measure on a phenotypically plastic organism is
discussed. Nevertheless the establishment of further refuge populations are considered to be a viable conservation action.

Sub-structuring within the largest native Scottish population of C. lavaretus was not found. However, evidence of residence within certain basins of Loch Lomond was found through significant differences in muscle stable isotope signatures. Investigation was also made into the trophic ecology of other fish in Loch Lomond. It was found that brown trout (Salmo trutta) in Loch Lomond have a non-typical migration pattern and invasive ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernuus) now form an important part of the trophic ecology of this site.

In Britain several whitefish populations have been invaded by ruffe, a species native to Britain, but not to these sites. An experiment is conducted into the protective ability against ruffe predation on C. lavaretus ova of substrates typical on spawning grounds. It was found
that pebbles and gravel form the best spawning substrate. The impact this mortality may have on the life history of Loch Lomond C. lavaretus is discussed.

Using information gathered in this study, recommendations for the management of Coregonus spp. are summerised. There is the potential for these recommendations to apply to other phenotypically plastic species that vary between sites such as Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) and brown trout.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: conservation, ecology, evolution, speciation, taxonomy, plasticity, freshwater, glacial relict species, whitefish, Coregonus, Coregonus lavaretus, Coregonus clupeoides, Coregonus stigmaticus, Coregonus pennantii, powan, schelly, gwyniad, Loch Lomond, Loch Eck, Loch Sloy, Carron Valley Reservoir, morphology, translocation, morphometrics, stable isotope analysis
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QL Zoology
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Adams, Prof. C.E. and Bean, Dr C.W.
Date of Award: 2009
Depositing User: Dr E Etheridge
Unique ID: glathesis:2009-1598
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:43

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